Today I took an encaustic painting class at WaxWorksWest with Cathy Valentine. The class was called “Going Deep.” According to the class description, “this process requires time, patience and the ability to ‘let go’ of what you may feel is a completed piece.” Just what I needed…an opportunity to exercise my patience!

Oscar Wilde said “Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life” but today my painting process was a pretty good representation for what my life has been like lately. We started out by making our own painting and drawing tools out of materials like steel wool and fiber that we tied to a stick. Then we used india ink to start drawing shapes and patterns. The process was to add a layer of medium, draw on it, fuse it, and repeat. Over and over. The multiple layers add depth to the painting.

I had a hard time knowing where to start, with no strategy for getting to a finished piece. I tried different shapes and drawings on the wax, but I was feeling completely uninspired, mostly because of an underlying sadness in my spirit from an argument I had with a friend the previous day that was still weighing on me. At one point, I was so frustrated that things weren’t coming together that I went outside to get some fresh air. I looked up at the blue sky and yearned for inspiration. After a couple of minutes of enjoying the beautiful weather and the lovely garden outside the studio, I was ready to try again. Here’s where I picked it up:

I was experimenting with an infinity symbol and the painting tool I was using created a lot of “noise” around it, which seemed to capture the lost feeling I have right now about what to do with my life as well as all the messiness and complications that I feel I’m dealing with. I’m surrounded by lots of friends and people yet I yearn for the symbiotic union of the two orbs of the infinity loop in the painting, creating strength and intimacy.

Inspired by the bright day outside and the recent Independence Day holiday, I picked up on the the dots from the ink and decided to add some “fireworks” with oil stick:

I liked the addition of color, and I started visualizing the front view of an airplane, with swirling vortices coming off of it. I decided to add some “blue sky” background in preparation for some clouds and a nice airplane:

But something brought me back to the swirly lines. I added a few more layers of those and started seeing tentacles (my fascination with octopuses) so I went back to the oil sticks and grabbed cadmium orange and brown/pink:

I liked where that was going, so I inked in the “suckers” and the outline a little more:

It’s a bit difficult to see in the photograph, but all the layers underneath add a very cool depth to the painting. I thought I was done, but then the teacher delightfully told me that I’ll have a chance tomorrow to take it even further!

What did I take away from today? A few things:
it’s okay to not have a plan. Things will eventually work out (I had serious doubts right about lunchtime, but it did work out). While it was initially unsettling to jump in and start without a plan, I was excited to try something new and to stretch my comfort level, and I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome.
art reveals itself. Sometimes you have to just have faith…and patience. Beauty is inside of us, we just have to give it an opportunity to unfold.
even when you do have a plan, the universe might have something else in store for you. Deal with it. It will probably be just fine, although maybe not what you had expected.